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There are two absolutes about running Comrades.  The day will be long and you will get tired!  Here are some useful tips for dealing with tiredness and the “long day”.  In no particular order, here they are.

Make eye contact

I can’t take credit for this!  I got this bit of advice from Lindsay Weight.  It’s applicable throughout the day but comes into its own when you are tired.  Let me explain.

When you are tired it is so much more difficult to motivate yourself.  You are using all your effort just to keep your legs moving.  It is difficult to send positive messages from your brain to your body.  Now, this is where making eye contact works so well.  When you make eye contact with someone it evokes a reaction from this person.  They will somehow acknowledge the eye contact made.  From experience I have found it is usually a smile or a “keep going”, “well done” or “looking good”.  By their reaction they are “sending” a positive message to my body because I am hearing what they are saying and “passing the message” on.  Go on, try it in your next race!

Smile

Again, this isn’t mine to take credit for. Yes, it was Lindsay’s favourite “last minute” advice to Comrades runners.  Smile, it evokes a reaction from anyone who sees you.  You’ll hear things like “look at her (him) smiling, you’re looking good”.  Again, you are getting positive feedback which is being absorbed by your brain.

Talk to the water tables

Another great way to get positive feedback is by GIVING positive feedback!  How?  Well, at the water tables, make eye contact, speak to the helpers, thank them for their effort.  Acknowledge that they have also been up and working since early morning.  By being positive and nice to someone else, keeps your own spirits on a high!

Avoid negative people

This could be categorized under mental and practical considerations during the run.  Don’t hang around negative runners!  If you are running alongside someone who keeps making negative comments, drop them.  You don’t want negative messages heard by your brain.  In the same way, try and stick to someone positive.  That is, someone who is joking and laughing and appears to have a plan.

Rotate the pain

The thing is, on Comrades, everything hurts, so just keep ‘rotating the pain’.  Basically what this means is that if for example, your knee is hurting, move on to something else that could also be hurting, let’s say, your calf muscle.  Turn your focus to your calf.  Before you know it, you will have forgotten about your knee.  When the calf pain becomes prominent, think about another body part or muscle and “rotate the pain” to that part.  Sounds crazy?  Try it!

Shut up and run

Again, use this mantra to keep going when you are tired and wanting to stop.  Stop whinging and just keep going.  It is AS SIMPLE AS THAT!

Every man for himself

Remember, you have to answer to your family, friends, running mates and work colleagues.  Your objective is to cross the finish line before cut off.  Drop your buddies if they are holding you back!  Now that may sound cold-hearted but don’t worry about them, the “next runner” will come along and pick them up and keep them going.  Much like you will come along and “pick up” someone else along the route who will “need and use” you for a while.  Running Comrades doesn’t mean that you have to stick to running with one buddy, it means to keep going as best you can and helping your fellow runner as and when you are running with them.  I hope I am making sense!

Finally, just look around you, you are not the only one out there feeling the way you are.  Everybody hurts, sometime!

Key words: running Comrades, eye contact, smile, water tables, positive feedback, negative comments, rotate the pain
Internal links: mental considerations, practical considerations, shut up and run
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website,



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2008
alsoran@webafrica.org.za